OSU paddle people told to quiet down before the snap
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Saturday, September 29, 2012
9/29/12 at 5:21 AM
The "paddle people" at Oklahoma State home football games aren't being silenced. But they will have to pick their spots to make noise because of the fallout from Big 12 athletic directors voting this week to prohibit artificial noisemakers at sporting events.
Who are the paddle people? They carry wooden paddles into Boone Pickens Stadium so they can sit in the front row and bang paddles against the stadium wall. The racket they create has become a normal part of the OSU football atmosphere.
The new normal is paddle people will be subject to the same rule that applies to bands, stadium sound systems and public address announcers: Noise must cease when the quarterback gets in position to receive the snap and starts calling cadence. Officials can warn offenders or penalize the home team, if necessary.
Once news broke that the paddle people would be legislated, paddlegate broke out. Because OSU is hosting a Big 12 opener Saturday night against Texas, conspiracy theorists jumped to the conclusion that this was a case of Longhorn power brokers (coach Mack Brown, athletic director DeLoss Dodds) flexing muscle in league affairs.
Doesn't that sound juicy?
But OSU athletic director Mike Holder quickly shot down conspiracy theorists. He said Dodds wasn't aware of the paddle people and didn't even know they existed.
"I had to explain who they are and what they did," Holder said.
Here's Holder's play-by-play of how things transpired: He said the issue of artificial noisemakers came up during a Big 12 athletic directors meeting. The sentiment was that ADs wanted to eliminate all artificial noisemakers. Holder wondered how that would affect the paddle people. He values what they bring to game day atmospheres, and he didn't want the paddles to be confiscated.
"So we had some conversation about it, and they agreed to grandfather (in) the paddle people, but they would have to adhere to the same policy we have for the band," Holder said.
"I thought it was a great outcome from what could have been a pretty bad situation for us. We didn't want to lose the paddle people."
Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said it would be a great inaccuracy to say the noisemaker rule was directed specifically at OSU and the paddles. Bell ringers at Texas Tech must abide by the same restrictions as the paddlers. Fans at all Big 12 schools will be prevented from making racket with artificial noisemakers like thundersticks and vuvuzelas.
Some OSU student-athletes used social media to come out in support of the paddle people. Holder said the paddle people take a lot of pride in what they do and he understands that they would be upset. But, because an alternative might have been no more paddle people, Holder was pleased there was a different outcome.
"We owe all the conference athletic directors a thank you for allowing the tradition to continue," Holder said. "It's not something we should be upset about."
Original Print Headline: Paddlers told to stop before ball is snapped
Jimmie Tramel 918-581-8389
OSU student fans wave their paddles as they celebrate a touchdown last season. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World file